The Different Times of Today

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10:49 AM. It’s a beautiful morning, made more so because it’s a public holiday. I saw these gorgeous-looking clouds and quickly grabbed my Canon 6D and my 24-105mm f/4L lens. I saturated the skies by using a Hoya polarizer and slightly underexposing by –1/3 stop.

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5:45 PM. Had some heavy rain this afternoon, but it cleared towards the evening and became very calm. I saw this reflection in the river and my first instinct was to reach for my polarizer. That, however, obliterated most of the reflection and made the scene less interesting. So I took it off and shot—the 6D gave a perfect exposure. No exposure compensation was necessary.

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7:33 PM. After dinner I decided to go for a walk, although the weather had clouded up quite a bit and light rain was falling. I saw the full moon and shot this, underexposing by 1 2/3 stops to bring out the blue. At first, I didn’t like the birds in the picture and took another shot without them. However, after uploading the pictures to my computer I liked this shot better—it added something extra to the picture.

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7:34 PM. This was taken facing the west. I used a Tiffen neutral density graduated filter to enhance the somberness of these dark menacing clouds. The rain was continuing while darkness began to creep in. I decided to call it a day.

Passion

Canon 6D, 100mm f/2.8L Macro

Canon 6D, 100mm f/2.8L Macro

We lose ourselves in the things we love. We find ourselves there, too. ~ Kristin Martz

I don’t quite know how to describe it. It’s like an old flame—well it is an old flame, since I encountered photography 30 years ago. However, for the past year it has seared itself to me, especially after having gone full frame with the Canon EOS 6D. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t think of photography. In years past I would have said I am a pianist who takes pictures. Now I’m saying I’m a photographer who plays the piano. But just as I enjoy playing the piano alone, it’s the same with photography. It doesn’t bother me that every time I go out I’m lugging at least 5kg of camera gear. I am ruthless when I review the pictures on my computer. Sometimes I delete the whole batch of them. However, this is few and far between. Most times, there are a couple of gems for every photoshoot I do.

Nature and landscapes are my faves now.  I don’t do people photography as much now because one, it’s hard to find a willing subject, and two, they are usually critical of the results. It’s less a pain in the butt to take pictures of nature and landscapes (have you ever heard a landscape complaining? Me neither)

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Canon 6D, Sigma 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye

Where there is joy, there is creation. ~ Hindu Scripture

Taking a picture is easy. Creating a picture needs more thought—it’s all too easy to bring the viewfinder up to my eye and start clicking. I find that now I am more concerned with the light, exposure, angle of view, white balance, and a lot more. Of course this takes a few seconds, but it pays rewards in that I have this instinctive feeling that I’ve captured a great picture, not just simply a snapshot.

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Canon 6D, 24-105mm f/4L. Multiple exposure done in-camera.

I find myself pre-visualizing more than I did in the past. Asking myself what I want to do with a scene that I wish to capture. I took a straight shot of the umbrellas in the picture above but it was, ordinary. Making a multiple exposure shot (thanks to my Canon 6D this was simple to achieve) makes the umbrellas more surreal…which was what I envisioned before taking the picture.

My Zen of Photography

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30 years ago I bought my first SLR—a Canon T50 film camera, and I’ve never looked back. Although it was a very basic camera consisting of only Program mode and a self-timer it got me hooked. It was the first 35mm camera I owned and I was so proud of it. Now, 30 years later, the 35mm format is still alive and kicking in the digital world (although it’s called full-frame now) and I’ve gone through seven Canon cameras. I’ve always loved the brand, and I’m presently using the very excellent EOS 6D. So this marriage has lasted a long time, although there were years when I put it in the proverbial closet.

I’m happy to say that this old flame of mine has returned, and with a vengeance. I feel so comforted when I hold my Canon 6D in my hand; it becomes like an extension of my sight, my vision. I am learning and beginning to see the world with a new pair of eyes, literally. I would say that my skills have improved with age…perhaps evolving along with my persona. I’ve slowed down…no more whipping out the camera and just clicking like a damn tourist…ugh, I hate that. And since I take pictures alone I can afford to pause, to reflect, to see the way the leaves catch the early morning light, for instance. I have to say that photography goes along very well with my introverted personality—I like doing my captures alone. No photographic groupies for me, thank you.

I’ve learnt to see things in a different way, looking at them like a curious child. For the photograph above, I pass by this area regularly on my way to the local Botanical Gardens for my morning walks. On this particular morning however, I stopped…and gasped at the incredible light that was piercing through the trees. Of course, the first rule of photography is to bring along your camera with you, and fortunately that’s what I did. I know my 6D well enough to expose the picture I way I want it…still, I took a few shots, just to be sure. I’m not bragging here…not saying I’m a pro or shit like that. But there’s a very instinctive feeling when I click the shutter and know that I’ve got the shot the way I wanted it.

At the same time I’ve become more critical of the pictures I take. A little fuzzy? Delete. Horizon a little crooked? Delete. Exposure not quite to my liking? Delete. Thank goodness for digital. In the film days I’d be tearing up photographs after getting them back from the photo store.

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As a photographer I believe in light, or the way light behaves when it reaches us on Earth. It’s ever changing, minute by minute, hour by hour. Sometimes I happen to be at the right place at the right time, and magic happens. I think one needs a lot of patience and tenacity when creating pictures. Because I’m a stubborn purist and I never, ever do Photoshop or post-processing. So it has to be right when I take the shot.

Although I like taking people portraits, opportunities to do so have been few and far between. But when a willing subject comes along, what can I say…it’s pure magic. The photo below was shot using a Canon 70-200mm f/4L with a Nikon soft filter. Jesslyn is an old friend and ex-student of mine. She was super cooperative during the shoot. I’d have used a little flash but fortunately I had the help of the existing daylight to get those wonderful catchlights in her eyes. And that hint of a smile is priceless.

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Finally, I’ve been taking more sunrise pictures. I really like the light during the blue hour, just before the sun rises. Of course, I need to drag myself out of my cozy bed but what the hell, I can sleep later during the day. This picture was taken one January morning at 7:15. I used my Canon 24-105mm f/4L and a Tiffen ND (Neutral Density) filter, that was it. No post processing.

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So there you have it. Perhaps I’ll talk more about the way I work in my next post.

Giant Steps

Canon 6D

Oh dear, my poor photo blog—haven’t updated it for a year now, tsk tsk… The truth is, I made a big decision awhile ago to go full-frame, after carefully weighing up the pros and cons. Yup, sometimes in life we’ve got to make up our minds and stick to it. In this case, it worked for me—upgrading from APS-C to FF is a huge step in quality, no doubt about that. And I’m very glad I did it. It was so fortuitous that Canon launched their EOS 6D just before I made up my mind. This is Canon’s lightest FF camera yet. I’m going to cut the whole story short and say that I like it immensely—I’ve been using it so much since I got it. More to come (hopefully).